Notes on the Past

August 13, 2014

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I recently traveled to Greece for the first time and was completely blown away by the Acropolis in Athens. As an art history major in college, learning about the Parthenon and all of its High Classical attributes adorning the columns, pediments, and friezes, was paramount to a proper understanding of subsequent art and architecture. But that was looking at slides and reciting facts for an exam. Actually standing there, grasping the physicality of its scale, the enormity of its impact on Ancient Greece, is an entirely different experience. Taking fifteen years to construct, the Parthenon, a temple dedicated to the goddess Athena, was completed around 432 BC.  In the centuries to follow the monument witnessed wars and changing reigns, suffered collateral damage from a cannon blast, lost marbles from looters, and served as a temple, a mosque, and a church. Today, the Parthenon remains (albeit partially) an emblem of Greek mythology, of Western civilization, a pinnacle of classical Greek architecture, and a symbol of the ideals of democracy, order, and philosophy. These pillars are preserved to remind us of an era that fostered the ideas we still reference today – the Socratic method, the Pythagorean theorem, and Plato’s Republic to name a few.
This and the other incredible temples on the Acropolis were and are undoubtedly architectural wonders.  Part of the mastery and perfection of the Parthenon, though, lies in the imperfections – the optical illusion of straight lines and right angles actually comes from the slight curving and tapering of each column, deliberate imprecisions to make the temple appear lighter and more beautiful.
When old age shall this generation waste,
Thou shalt remain, in midst of other woe
Than ours, a friend to man, to whom thou sayst,
“Beauty is truth, truth beauty,” – that is all
Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.
– John Keats Ode on a Grecian Urn, Line 46-50

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Postcards from London

July 1, 2014

L1000344I jumped the pond for a few days and tackled as many exhibitions as my jet-lagged brain would allow. There’s really much too much to see in London in three days but I gave it a valiant effort. The highlight of my trip was Bridget Riley The Stripe Paintings 1961-2014 at David Zwirner, the Henri Matisse Cut Out exhibition at the Tate Modern, Adrian Ghenie’s Darwin Room at Pace London, early Jim Hodges at Stephen Friedman, and BANKSY at Sotheby’s. And I thoroughly enjoyed wandering around the lovely little Mayfair shops and pubs and enjoying all of the old-world charm London has to offer. Including a few pints of Guinness.

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